The other day we were watching Strictly Come Dancing and one of the couples were dancing to the song “The Lambeth Walk” which, personally, is a song I’ve never really heard of. But as they danced my parents reminisced about their experiences in and around the Lambeth area. My mum said “That’s where I got my pearl ring. The one I bought with my first week’s wages. It was stolen in the burglary.”
The burglary she is referring to happened in March 2012 and I still hold myself responsible for it.
At the time I was supposed to be in Canada doing volunteer work but had come home early due to some difficulties with mental health and living away from home for a prolonged period of time. On the day it happened I was at home on my own – all three of my brothers had moved out and my parents had gone down to Bournemouth to visit my grandparents – so it was just me at home.
I got a text in the early evening, around four o’clock, from a friend asking if I wanted to go over and play video games and hang out with him and another friend. I agreed because hanging out with them made me feel normal. I know I don’t need to justify why I went but hanging out with them really made me feel like a normal person, I could be myself and wasn’t putting up barriers or walls for anybody. So yeah, I went.
The night went great and I was around there for a good couple of hours before we had to leave because they had work the next day. So I took my friend home and then went home myself.
Nothing seemed strange upon first entry. I unlocked the door, let the dog out to do his business, and then came back to go upstairs. I stopped in the living room when I saw a folded up note on the floor. I unfolded it and it was Canadian money. Money left over from my trip that I hadn’t got changed back yet. Now I don’t lose things, I don’t misplace things and I often remember exactly where my things are, so to find this on the living room floor was a little surprise.
Thinking the worst I ran upstairs and threw open my door. There was a large empty space on my desk where my laptop had been – the wires were still there, just not connected to anything anymore. My bed was covered with the drawers from my chest of drawers and any tin and/or container I had was opened and emptied onto the bed, obviously looking for anything valuable.
I ran back downstairs, let the dog in and noticed the back door didn’t lock. After checking it (and having the neighbour around to check too) we saw somebody had actually got into the door itself and dismantled the locking mechanism (and done away with it completely). I phoned my brothers and they came to stay with me for the night and phoned the police for me.
Anyway, in the next few weeks/months we had to make a report of what was stolen. I found out over this next few weeks that my mum had all of her jewellery stolen. She didn’t mind some of it because, as she said, it was “costume jewellery” which wasn’t all that valuable. But in amongst the jewellery was an heirloom – my great grandmother’s wedding ring – and the pearl ring that my mother had bought with her first week’s pay in her very first job.
Now I have felt guilty about this ever since it happened. If you look at two basic facts you can see why.
- If I hadn’t come home from Canada early then my car would have still been on the drive that night and it would have looked like somebody was at home.
- If I hadn’t left the house to go to my friend’s house then I would have been at home to prevent anything being stolen.
This, for anybody who is wondering, this is why I don’t leave the house very much. If I leave the house then there’s a chance it will happen again. The house gets broken into, people lose valuable things and I feel personally responsible. I’m still carrying around the weight of having lost family heirlooms and pieces of sentimental value, I couldn’t cope with coming home to that scene again. Every time I leave the house I have the fear of coming home to a crime scene again.
I turned down the counselling they suggested at the time. I thought I was strong enough to understand it wasn’t my fault. Somebody breaking into your house isn’t your fault. But I should have taken it because I still, almost six years later, blame myself for what happened and feel responsible for everything that was taken in the burglary.
I thought I’d be most moved by losing my laptop but it doesn’t phase me at all. I don’t care that they stole that. What I care about, and what I feel bad about every time it’s mentioned, is that things of personal value were stolen. Things that weren’t mine. They meant a lot to my mother and I feel like I caused her that pain when the house was broken into because I feel responsible for not preventing it from happening.